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Did Rodney King's Beating Lead to Riot?

June 18, 2012

Shorthand misses scope of anger unleashed in '92; TV reporter assaulted covering immigration raid; "you cover a lot of crime and a lot of weird people"; for reporter's book on first lady's ancestry; new black networks push back launch dates; Knight News Challenge awards $1.37 million; Alabama Public Television in row over religious videos; black men get good press for Father's Day (6/18/12)

Shorthand Misses Scope of Anger Unleashed in '92

TV Reporter Assaulted Covering Immigration Raid

"You Cover a Lot of Crime and a Lot of Weird People"

Raves for Reporter's Book on First Lady's Ancestry

New Black Networks Push Back Launch Dates

Phoenix business owner Mahmoud Emadi-Dehagi demands that Telemundo reporter Julio Cisneros stop recording an immigration raid. (Credit: KNXV) (Video)

TV Reporter Assaulted Covering Immigration Raid

"A man was arrested for assaulting a Valley reporter and damaging his camera during an immigration raid Thursday," Hatzel Vela reported for KNXV-TV in Phoenix.

"Julio Cisneros, a Telemundo reporter, set up his camera on a sidewalk in front of Autofit, the Phoenix company raided by Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies.

"While he was shooting video, he noticed the business owner Mahmoud Emadi-Dehagi approaching him.

"Emadi-Dehagi was quick to start demanding Cisneros stop recording and delete the video.

" 'Delete what you record from me,' he told Cisneros, as he slapped the camera. 'Delete it. Delete it. You need to delete it.'

"Cisneros said, "OK," but continued recording.

"Emadi-Dehagi is seen once again hitting the camera and that's when Cisneros said a piece of the camera came off.

"Cisneros is glad an average citizen, who had just exited a public bus, saw what was happening and started defending him.

" 'You can't do that,' said the Good Samaritan.

" 'It's my property,' Emadi-Dehagi said.

" 'This is not your property. This is a sidewalk,' the Good Samaritan said. 'You can't do that though man.'

"Cisneros questions whether the heated immigration debate in Arizona may be contributing to such anger.

"He admits this is not the first time he has been harassed while out in public covering a story.

" 'When I do my standup, of course I have to do it in Spanish. That's my first language,' Cisneros said. 'And I hear people, you know, when they walk by they say go back to your country. This is my country.'

"Emadi-Dehagi was charged with a felony charge of criminal damage.

". . . Six people were arrested at the business and are believed to be in the country illegally," according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

When reporter Steve Roldan tried to talk to David Houston on a public road outside his Portland, Maine, home, Houston grabbed Roldan by the throat. (Credit: KSAZ/KUTP) (Video)

"You Cover a Lot of Crime and a Lot of Weird People"

"David Houston's sign that called the president a racist name and a pedophile drew the attention of the U.S. Secret Service but didn't get him in trouble with the law, police say. His televised confrontation with a reporter did," David Hench reported Saturday for the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald.

"Houston, 59, is free on bail after his arrest on a charge of simple assault against WGME-TV reporter Steve Roldan. Houston is accused of grabbing the reporter by the throat Thursday as Roldan asked him about the sign near Houston's home in Bridgton.

"Roldan has worked for the CBS affiliate for 20 months. Before that, he spent seven years reporting for a station in San Antonio, a high-crime city with 1.3 million people.

" 'You cover a lot of crime and a lot of weird people, and even in a city like that, I never had any physical encounter with anybody,' Roldan said Friday. 'People have made threats they're going to do this, do that. This is the first time somebody has actually done anything toward me.'

"Bridgton police learned of Houston's sign, erected on the lawn at the intersection of Fosterville Road and Route 107, when a resident complained about the offensive message Tuesday.

"The sign included a racial slur, accused President Obama of raping children and urged people to join a Bridgton version of the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist hate group with a history of violence against black people."

Raves for Reporter's Book on First Lady's Ancestry

"A new book by New York Times reporter Rachel L. Swarns traces first lady Michelle Obama's ancestry to white slave-owners in Georgia, whose white descendants have mixed feelings about the revelation," Donovan Slack reported Monday for Politico.

" 'You really don't like to face this kind of thing,' said Joan Tribble, whose ancestors owned the first lady's great-great-great-grandmother, according to Swarns.

Rachel L. Swarns"Swarns used DNA tests and conducted more than two years of research for the book, 'American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama,' which is scheduled to be released Tuesday."

Reviewing the book Sunday in the New York Times Book Review, historian Edward Ball wrote, " 'American Tapestry,' a fascinating account of the first lady's family, corrects the omission of race from the Obama White House. No political memoir has ever looked or sounded like this one: the book spans several generations of Mrs. Obama's people and reads like a panorama of black life."

Swarns "has uncovered the story of an ordinary black American family, typical in so many details: generations of forced work on Southern farms; sexual exploitation; children born half white; attempts to flee slavery; emancipation at the end of a rifle barrel; terrorization by the Klan during Reconstruction; futility stirred in with pleasure and church in the 1900s; a stepladder into the working class — and finally, the opportunity that allowed for Michelle Obama's superior education and unlocked 150 years of bolted doors.

"The book is nonfiction, but with some 30 characters competing for space it's like a saga or perhaps a mini-series, minus the dialogue. . . ."

New Black Networks Push Back Launch Dates

"When plans were revealed for a pair of start-up multicast networks targeting African-American viewers and competing with Bounce TV, the space looked as lively as any. But as the third quarter approaches, principals at the new concepts, KIN TV and Soul of the South, have realized just how hard it is to bring their channels to life," Michael Malone wrote Monday for the subscriber-only section of Broadcasting & Cable.

"Soul of the South had initially pegged the first quarter for its debut; network executives are now saying the first half of September. KIN TV, which no longer has MGM on board, is shooting for August with a modest launch group.

". . . Soul of the South's holdup, say its execs, is tied to the decision to launch its own master control operation, which they say will go live in Little Rock, Ark., in the next few weeks. 'We decided to step back and get a handle on technology and infrastructure,' says chairman/CEO Edwin Avent.

"Soul aims to set itself apart with a trio of newscasts — content coming from headquarters, from affiliates, and from a dozen or so bureaus around the South. With massive political spending targeting TV news come fall, the network has incentive to be on the air by then.

". . . KIN TV, meanwhile, is targeting a mid-August soft launch for five to 10 stations. 'We’re still very much alive,' insists CEO Lee Gaither.

"That's despite some big setbacks. Initially, MGM was said to be a distribution partner; now it's not. Some Fox-owned MyNetworkTV stations were lined up to air KIN, but a Fox representative says that's no longer the case. Gaither says former NBA star Charles Barkley remains a KIN partner. 'He's involved in every content decision,' says Gaither. (Barkley's management confirmed his role.)"

Knight News Challenge Awards $1.37 Million

"Ranging from an aggregator of mobile video streams of breaking news to a platform that coordinates community disaster recovery, six media innovation ventures were awarded more than $1.37 million as winners of the Knight News Challenge on Networks," the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced on Monday.

Among the winners is Mohamed Nanabhay, who was the head of online at Al Jazeera English, where he led the team that produced award-winning coverage of the Arab revolutions in 2011.

"With newsrooms stretched for resources, editors have to increasingly make difficult decisions about which stories get covered and promoted," the foundation said of Nanabhay's proposal. His project, Signalnoi.se, "aims to help, by tracking social engagement with the news — scanning social network activity to provide real-time information on what's resonating with readers. Editors are able to track their own — and competitors' — stories."

Ala. Public Television in Row Over Religious Videos

"Three members of an authority that helps raise money for Alabama Public Television quit this week after another commission fired two top network executives amid the possible addition of Christian-themed historical shows and a broader restructuring, officials said Friday," Jay Reeves wrote Friday for the Associated Press.

"The chairman of the Alabama Educational Television Commission, Ferris Stephens, said three of the five members on the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority resigned following the commission's decision earlier this week to terminate the director of Alabama Public TV, Allan Pizzato, and another executive.

". . . Commission members who spoke with The Associated Press confirmed the firings came as the panel considered a push by at least one member of the seven-person board to have the network air videos produced by WallBuilders, a Texas-based Christian group headed by evangelical historian David Barton that promotes the idea that the United States is a Christian nation based on the Bible."

J. Holland, a newly appointed member of the Alabama Educational Television Commission, "told Current.org, a blog about public broadcasting published by American University's communications school, that Pizzato and his staff had 'grave concerns' that the videos were inappropriate for public broadcasting because of their religious tint.' "

Black Men Get Good Press for Father's Day

Father's Day might be the only time of year when the preponderance of coverage of black fathers isn't about the dads who don't care for their children, end up incarcerated or otherwise fail to measure up.

It certainly seemed that way over the weekend. Instead, many media outlets went out of their way to transmit testimony about the successful ones, from those who know them best. The good feelings even extended to black men in prison. Yahoo News posted "Father's Day in Prison," a slide show about "Get on the Bus," an annual Father's Day event that brings children in California to visit their fathers in San Quentin State Prison. Photos were by Lucy Nicholson of Reuters.

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